In this study, poly(N,N-diethylacrylamide-co-itaconic acid) (P(DEA-co-IA)) copolymer hydrogels were synthesized by changing the initial DEA/IA molar ratio, N,N-methylenebisacrylamide and total monomer concentration. The thermo-sensitive and mechanical performances were optimized by altering the above parameters. In comparison with the PDEA hydrogel, the equilibrium swelling ratio (ESR) and lower critical solution temperature (LCST) of the hydrogels changed with the alternation of the above parameters. The swelling and deswelling kinetics was also studied in dital. The release behaviors of the model drug, aminophylline, are found dependent on hydrogel composition and environmental temperature, which suggests that these materials have potential application as intelligent drug carriers.